In an alternate near future, the threat of an alien invasion looms ever closer in the city-state of Rosewater, the surrounding nation of Nigeria, and, ultimately, all of Earth.
As per the agreement set in the previous Wormwood novel (The Rosewater Insurrection, 2019), the alien Homians have begun mentally occupying reanimates, apparently mindless fresh human corpses healed and revived by Homian technology. Unbeknownst to most, this is the beginning of a gradual takeover of Earth by the Homians. But some Homians are trying to speed up the process through a series of mass murders. Worse still, Hannah Jacques, a lawyer and the wife of Rosewater’s mayor (who struck the deal with the Homians), publicly reveals that reanimates are capable of recovering their memories and cognitive facilities. Tensions in Rosewater rise still higher as criminal twins and rivals Taiwo and Kehinde engage in violent turf wars and the mayor legalizes gay marriage in what is still a very homophobic population. Meanwhile, Femi Alaagomeji, once the head of the Nigerian intelligence agency S45, works to counter the Homian threat, enlisting her former operative Kaaro, the cowardly but powerful psychic who is sensitive to her cause even while his girlfriend, Aminat, another ex–S45 agent, feels frustrated in her current position as Rosewater’s head of security. And Oyin Da, the enigmatic time-traveling woman also known as Bicycle Girl, learns some troubling truths about herself as she searches for a way to undermine the aliens and ensure humanity’s survival. Popular American tales of alien invasion typically depict the contentious nations of the world recognizing the threat and uniting despite their differences to defeat the unearthly foe; Thompson is far too canny about how even an alternate version of our planet really works politically to throw such a corny show our way. Of course, it’s still a trope (but a more believable one) that only a few people are clearsighted and ruthless enough to see and act upon the truth while everyone else fails to notice, too intent on their own needs. The ultimate strategy our (anti)heroes choose to employ against the Homians also has its roots in a sci-fi plot device that’s more than a century old, but it’s still carried off with drama and panache.
A fitting end to this trilogy, which, in even its trippiest moments, maintains a plausibility that others in this subgenre often lack.